Ahmedabad: Heavy rains in the Saurashtra region over the past few days are likely to damage the cotton crop in Gujarat, which accounts for about one-third of India’s estimated 325 lakh bales of annual cotton produce. One bale is equivalent to 170kg of cotton.
Cotton output from the state could fall by as much as 20% this season, according to stakeholders in the trade. Sudden rains have also delayed the arrival of the first crop of this season. The crop, which was due in mandis or local wholesale market of Saurashtra by the first week of October, is likely to be delayed by more than 10 days. Saurashtra accounts for over 60% of cotton sowing area in Gujarat.
“Cotton gets wet as moisture content in the air rises when it rains. This makes it heavier and traders do not accept the produce. We would start accepting it only after it dries up,” said Biren Vakil, director, Paradigm Commodities Pvt. Ltd. Traders were expecting an increase in the produce this year as the area under cotton cultivation in Gujarat has gone up to 25 lakh ha from 22 lakh ha last year. “Last year Gujarat farmers produced 105 lakh bales of cotton and we expected the output to touch 125-130 lakh bales this season. However, we may be forced to scale back the estimate by 15-20% due to the rains that have lashed cotton-producing belt of Saurashtra,” Vakil said.
The worst may not be over yet for the cotton producers of the region. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) website says there is a well-marked low pressure area over northeast Arabian Sea off Saurashtra coast.
“Under the influence of this system and an off-shore trough, fairly widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy falls is likely along the west coast during the next 48 hours,” the website said. A further spell of heavy rain could erode the cotton produce from the region by another 20%, Vakil said.